A new report by Eurofound shows how Ireland has one of the highest rates of NEETS in Europe at 22%. Greece has the highest at 35.9%, Bulgaria 24.6% AND Spain has 21.1%. NEETS are young people aged 15 – 29 who are not in education, employment or training.
Those with low levels of education are three times more likely to be NEET than those with third-level education. The risk is 70% higher for young people from an immigration background than nationals while having a disability or health issue is also a strong risk factor.
The economic crisis has severely damaged the employment prospects of the young generation, and employment among young people is now at the lowest level ever recorded by Eurostat. The Eurofound report analyses the labour market situation of young people in Europe, with a specific focus on the NEET group. It examines the determinants of belonging to the NEET group, and measures the economic and social costs of NEETs.
The economic cost of not integrating NEETs is estimated at over €150 billion, or 1.2% of GDP, in 2011 figures. Some countries, such as Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and Poland are paying 2% or more of their GDP.
The economic cost is not the only one. Young people not in employment, education or training are at higher risk of being socially and politically alienated. They have a lower level of level of interest and engagement in politics and lower levels of trust.
It is clear that current Irish Government policy in this area is failing young people and the challenge of dealing with this problem must be addressed urgently.